Saturday, December 13, 2008

World of Goo

Title: World of Goo
Author: 2D Boy
License: commercial

Two years ago I played around with Tower of Goo when it came out. Released as part of the experimental gameplay project, it was more of a toy than a game. It was interesting, but I did not see the true gaming potential in it. I figured it might morph into an open ended sand box game not a puzzle game. So, when World of Goo came out four months ago, I was not very excited. But I kept reading these rave reviews. Finally, I tried the demo. Then I paid my $20 for the full version. Now, I am jumping on the World of Goo bandwagon.

World of Goo is a wonderfully produced game. A simple idea combined with whimsy and a bit of love yields one the best games I have played this year. It is clear that the small team of designers, programmers, artists enjoyed making this game.

In a sentence, World of Goo is a cross of Lemmings with Bridge Construction Set. The objective of each level to build a structure using some of the goo balls which reaches the exit pipe and allows the remaining goo balls to escape. The interface simple, select a free goo ball and move it near the current structure. Once close, faint connections will appear. Release the goo ball and it becomes a new node in the structure and those faint connections become permanent.

Depending on the level, you may have to build a tower, a bridge or some thing else to reach the exit pipe. That is the puzzle aspect of the game, figuring out what to build. Also, to complete each level, a certain number of goo balls have to escape. So, you have to plan carefully to have a few unused guys at the end. Oh, the free unused goo balls move around on your structure, moving from node to node via the connections, weighing it down, stress it, and just causing trouble. You have to take this into consideration when planning your next node placement.

As you progress through the game, new goo ball types are introduced. Some goo balls are not permanent and can be removed from a structure and placed else where. Another type is the balloon goo balls which pulls upwards. While there are some helpful hints from "the sign painter", you have learn on your own the properties of each new type. That is part of the game.

There are 46 levels spread across 5 worlds. The levels have to more or less be completed in order. At some points there is a split allowing access to two levels, but you have to complete all of the levels in a world before moving on. On the plus side, you are allowed to skip some number of levels and return to them later. There were enough skips so that I never got stuck. For the hardcore, each level also has an OCD challenge, maybe save an addition number of goo balls or use a fixed number of moves.

The best part of World of Goo is the atmosphere. The back story, artwork, cut scenes, and hints from the sign painter are interwoven to produce a wonderful gaming experience. The interface and menus are simple and well done so as to not distract.

As with any game, World of Goo is not perfect. My biggest complaint is that as a puzzle game, World of Goo is lacking. This is largely a matter of taste, but very few of the of levels require serious puzzle solving skills like most of the games reviewed in this blog. For most levels, it is clear from the start what you need to do. Actually do it is another story. You might have to play around a bit, especially if a new goo ball type is available, to achieve it. This does lead to a frustration factor. One misplaced node can ruin several minutes work. There are these time travel angels flittering about; click on one and go back to some previous state. The actual amount you go back seems a bit random. I would mush prefer a time bar allowing me to go back to any previous time.

Through out the first three worlds (32 levels), the lack of tough puzzles was not much of an issue. I was just enjoying the game. The fourth world took a bad turn. A new goo ball type is introduced which you have to fire from one structure to the next in order to get them to the exit. If you missed, the goo ball would fall into the abyss or get chewed up by a gear and die a horrible death. Now the puzzle aspect is gone. For several levels in this world, it is all about aiming with no or minimal thinking. In practice, I found these levels easy but completely uninteresting.

This leads to my second big complaint: no level editor. This is a odd and glaring omission. I would love to see what challenges others could produce. There is an unofficial Goo Tool which allows includes a level editor and allows for mods. I have not played with it yet.

My last possible issue is the physics model. If you are a hard core BCS or Armadillo Run fan, you might be annoyed at the at somewhat loose physics in World of Goo. I personally was not bothered. Actually, a more accurate model would probably make the game too hard.

A great fan site for World of Goo is It contains walk through for each level in case you get stuck.


At 9:59 AM, Anonymous kamagra said...

Great post dear blogger, I have been looking for this since 3 weeks ago. The game is built around the idea of creating large structures using balls of goo. The game is divided into five chapters, each containing several levels and i won't stop my play score!


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